Remembering the Future

The Community Relations Council and Heritage Lottery Fund today jointly staged a conference in Belfast City Hall. Over 150 delegates spent the morning listening, discussing and thinking about Remembering the Future.

There are a flood of political and social history anniversaries coming up in the next ten years or so: the Plantation of Ulster; signing of the Ulster Covenant; sinking of the Titanic; World War One, including the Battle of the Somme; Easter Rising; War of Independence; partition of Ireland; woman’s suffrage; the civil rights movement; etc.

Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland gave the opening speech. While not setting aside any new money for commemoration events, he recently instructed his department’s arms length bodies to include anniversary events in their upcoming programmes of events and funding initiatives.

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen spoke about how the past is remembered in Israel and Palestine.

Fintan O’Toole – author, commentator and deputy editor of the Irish Times – asked who owns culture? And whose story are we telling?

In Friday night’s Belfast Telegraph, CRC’s Duncan Morrow and HLF’s Paul Mullan wrote about the challenges posed by the upcoming “decade of anniversaries”.

Can we turn pivotal events in the past into opportunities for learning, challenge and engagement for a better future? How we approach and commemorate these events will say much about our maturity as a society. Many of them have taken on resonance and meanings far greater than the actual events. History has become a battlefield in which we bend events to fit a wider political story, choosing our facts to prove a political point rather than learn more complicated truths.

The conference wrapped up with two panels made up of historians and politicians. In the final session, the five politicians (Delores Kelly, Ian Adamson, Mervyn Storey, Stephen Farry, and Tom Hartley) largely agreed on the need to get to grips with the context of these historical events and were willing to look through other people’s eyes to better understand why these events unfolded as they did.

As part of the proceedings, HLF proposed some principles that could be used to evaluate funding applications:

  • set in the broad historical context and built on the historical record and must be
    capable of interrogation;
  • include underlying complexities within identities, perspectives and ideologies;
  • evidence based; openness to plurality;
  • actively including different perspectives;
  • aiming for a mature and modern approach of mutual engagement and dialogue to commemoration; and
  • ethical.

Yesterday’s Sunday Sequence discussed the subject of commemoration (clip should start 51 mins into the programme) as well as this morning’s Good Morning Ulster (starts 1 hour 13 mins).


  • Another Conference.
    The usual suspects in attendance.
    I keep getting this feeling of deja vu.
    And of course ……more funding. Theres always more funding.
    Ordinary people really need to rally to protest against this. How do they get away with it? I ask myself.
    Because they CAN, I answer myself. Because we allow them to indulge themselves.
    I bet they had vol au vents.
    I suspect a few people will do rather well out of the next decade. How do I get involved in this racket?

    As was made clear at the recent “Ethical (sic) Remembering courses I attended for six weeks, the choreography for this nonsense is already in place. Conferences like this are phoney baloney ways of giving the impression of consultation…….no views from outside the Golden Halo of the human rights industry or conflict resolution industry will be heard.

  • Worth repeating what FJH wrote above, “Conferences like this are phoney baloney ways of giving the impression of consultation…….no views from outside the Golden Halo of the human rights industry or conflict resolution industry will be heard.”

  • Greenflag

    When the next ten years have passed and all the commemorations have been commemorated -Northern Ireland will still be where it’s at today apart from perhaps a bit more tolerance between the divided or should I say polarised communities and of course everybody will be 10 years older and probably not a whole lot wiser 🙂

    But will the banks increase their lending to small businesses to help create jobs or will the bankers still be allowed to rip out the hearts of economies all over the world ? Now thats the question that needs answering and despite the world economic meltdown neither Messrs Cameron or Obama or Kenny or Robinson or McGuinness have given the slightest indication that they either fully understand what has happened in the financial word or have any serious intent about doing anything that could be seen as bringing the world’s financial terrorists under some sort of public control .

    Sorry went off topic there which may upset conference afficionados .

    Still I suppose it’s a marginally more productive activity than exchanging bullets and bombs and for that lets wish them all the vol au vents they can wolf down 🙂

  • > a bit more tolerance between the divided or should I say polarised communities

    Greenflag – Wouldn’t that still be a good thing?

    > no views from outside the Golden Halo of the human rights industry or conflict resolution industry

    FJH – while admittedly referring to a different event, I doubt the table of Orange Order reps would have placed themselves squarely in either the human rights or conflict resolution categories!

  • fitzjameshorse1745 (profile) says:The usual suspects in attendance.I keep getting this feeling of deja vu.And of course ……more funding. Theres always more funding.

    Yes, we all seem to be in agreement. The photo with this op includes Tom Hartley who had a very good war and now seems to be having a very good peace.

  • Stieg

    the usual suspects

    [Mod – multiple Stieg comments have been removed]

  • The Raven

    If it weren’t for some of the spelling, I’d say Greig Carlin was back…

  • granni trixie

    FJH, as soon as I saw this topic I knew it would tick all your boxes: ‘the usual suspects’, CRC, and vol au vents of course. No diappointments there then.

    You are so cynical. I would love to have been at this conference. I believe in tallking. And – wait for it – there will be ANOTHER conference in Ulster Museum on Wed – and I will be there!
    Go on, surprise me?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Wouldn’t that still be a good thing?’

    I would’nt doubt it .Perhaps instead of remembering too much the past or remembering the ‘future’ past suitably complexified
    and ‘actively perspectived’ and ‘mutually engaged ‘ it might answer better if the present was faced up to and the future built.

    Some introspection and revisioning the past is all very well as an academic pursuit for the vol au vent crowd but it doesn’t reform the banking system nor create jobs nor does it impact on the lives of most ordinary people who have mortgages to pay and kids to bring up etc.

  • Henry94

    How we approach and commemorate these events will say much about our maturity as a society.

    We won’t be doing anything “as a society”. Different people will be commemorating different things in their own way. A mature society would let them get on with it. We can listen with interest to what people have to say at their occasions. If someone wants to take the opportunity to provide leadership all the better. If they play to the gallery then everybody else will just shrug and ignore them.

  • Greenflag

    But of course talking is always to be preferred to shooting -most of the time anyway, so I’ll wish the organisers and atttendees a successful and meaningful conference 😉

  • Stieg

    when apples they grow in the spring
    and whither in front of yer eyez
    its den dat we’ll have us employment
    and on end to yer terrible lies

  • Stieg

    well said GREENFLAG

  • Actually Greenflag, the way centenaries etc are commemorated DOES have the potential to influence if not exactly change the course of History.
    Last week I was in County Wexford, tramping around fields at Boulavogue, The Harrow, Oulart, Enniscorthy, Wexford town, New Ross, Scullabogue, Vinegar Hill (my kinda holiday but I was dragged off to “Ballykissangel) etc. As we know the typically Shepherd “Pikeman” monuments in the south east and the PJ McCall ballads such as “Boulavogue” were in the context of 1898 rather than 1798…..and did of course influence the course of Irish history in the early 20th century.
    Incidently theres a new book on PJ McCall recently published.
    Its quite possible that the upcoming centenaries will do the same. But in the hands of Nelson McCausland or a DUP successor its unlikely that the choreography (and its already in place) will be a genuine cross community exercise.
    Without a hint of irony Slugger commentators welcome Margaret Ritchies “poppy gesture” in (Downpatrick!) but get all annoyed about the Irish National Flag (in Downpatrick!). Thats the new concensus…..the in the middle ground that “liberal unionists” and their ilk….consider reasonable.While Ms Ritchies gesture is welcomed, the same voices would denounce a BBC NI or UTV weatherman or sports reporter who actually chose not to wear a poppy. Thats parity of esteem.
    We all know that Department of Culture will try and reign McCausland in a bit and produce something for him which is a fig leaf of community involvement and will be in contact with the Golden Halo to provide evidence to support them against McCausland.
    But essentially this is “Conflict Resolution gone maaaaad”.
    We will be invited yet again to atone for our communitys sins. Im not buying into that nonsense. Nor should anyone else with a shred of integrity.

  • Fitzg: Tell us more about PJ McCall. Did he do any more good songs? Who did The Croppy Boy? Furst song I remember along with Sean South and The patriot Game.

  • granni trixie……I am nothing if not consistent.
    But I just checked the Ulster Museums website and theres no mention of the Event to which you refer. But as it sounded interesting I phoned the Ulster Museum.
    Per the Museum
    There is indeed an event, seemingly organised by the Head of History at the Museum but it is alas by invitation only. So you will be there. And I wont be there.
    But if only I knew somebody in a position to wangle an invite for me and leave it at reception, everybody could be happy.
    Go on……surprise me 😉

  • granni trixie

    FJH: my understanding is that it is organised from IBIS dept in UCD – I saw reference to Conference on the internet and registered,no itcketing involved. ; Simple as that.

    The Ulster Peoples college have also organised a gtalk on civil rights in Ni by Eamonn Phoenix – wait for it in
    The PENTHOUSE! Last time I was there it was a disco with “bunny girls” (I kid you not).
    Keep up.

  • granni trixie

    oops…Penthouse event is on this Frid morning 10-12.

  • Greenflag, McCall (died 1919) was a Dubliner but had connexions to Rathangan in County Wexford. There is a stone marker there for him.
    Part of the Pan-Celtic Movement. First Sectretary of Irish National Literary Society. Worked with Yeats. But he was also a member of the Gaelic League, Feis Ceol and was a Dublin City councillor in early part of 20th century.
    Wrote “Boulavogue” (first published in summer of 1898 to coincide with events of 1798) and “Kelly the Boy from Killane”.
    Part of the whole “Centenary of ’98” movement which told the story thru History, Monument, Song….some would call it mythmaking. But it influenced events culminating in 1916.

    The current wave of “mythmaking” will centre round the Somme and shared legacy and all the usual nonsense. Obviously it is designed to be for the Common Good. As I tend to value History…..I dont like to see it compromised.

  • Turgon

    FJH is absolutely spot on in his reading of this nonsense. It has become an industry whereby assorted pseudo academics, dogooders and as he puts it so well “liberal dissidents” make a noise for themselves. If it were only a noise it would not be so bad but there is clearly money here. I doubt these people are all working for nothing in this “important work” and even if they were who is paying for all the costs? I doubt it comes out of Duncan Morrow’s pocket.

    Not only is it wasteful but it is also insulting. Many people disagree profoundly with the analysis taken in these sorts of meetings and repeatedly the implication is that those who disagree are wrong, often morally less correct. I have heard Morrow advance exactly that position in a church setting.

    The views of the CRC etc. must be set against those of real victims like Lowry Mathers who last week called for an investigation into his young wife’s murder. No doubt the dogooders would say how they feel his pain and how they empathise with him. However, I doubt they will be standing there demanding that those who did wrong are pursued with all the rigour of the law. Equally I do not see them echoing the call by some of the Bloody Sunday families for prosecutions.

    We all remember in our own ways. The people who I know who have lost loved ones to the terrorists would have absolutely no time for the nonsense supported by these groups.

    Perversly on this issue I have a great deal more respect for those who wish to remember republican terrorists who died. They are entitled to do so provided they break no laws. Their commerations are honest; not the cloying snactimonious nonsesne from the likes of the CRC.

    Henry 94 is exactly correct: people remember as individuals and how they want to: that is their right.

    The “liberal dissidents” seem to feel that they are right and the fact that they are attacked by both unionists and republicans means that they have successfully threaded a perfect course. That is actually utter nonsense and condescending nonsense at that. They have no right to tell other people how to remember or do anthing else. They have no mandate and no accountability. If OFMDFM or whoever gives them money had any sense they would plough the resources into something sensible rather than conferences and jobs for self appointed hand wringers.

  • Turgon,
    I have of course used the phrase “liberal dissident” on many occasions. But please feel free to use it. I hope it catches on.
    The “liberal dissidents” consider themselves superior ro everyone…..not just the electorate who they despise for perceived stupidity…
    I am not of course against conflict resolution. Mainly because I have never actually been in conflict and totally reject the notion that everything is my fault and I must apologise. Nor do I think that the Golden Halos new best friends “ex-prisoners” (code for ex-terrorists) are on a higher moral level than me because of their codified and qualified acknowledgements/apologies on a quid pro pro basis with any cheque written to facilitate their further self analysis.

    I have enormous respect for victims. They have paid a (too?) high price for our Peace. But it seems to me that most quiet victims disassociate themselves from the noisy “official victims” (more usual suspects).

    There is a cosy consensus that these ex-prisoners, noisier victims and the academics who faciliate them have a greater understanding of Truth than the rest of us. I dont doubt the sincerity of many in the “Golden Halo”. I think they are at times extremely gullible.
    And I think the rest of us…..the ordinary man and woman in the street are partly to blame for the situation where the twin “industries” of Community Relations and Conflict Resolution have got out of control.
    Politicians are happy that they are at arms length. No awkward decisions to be made.

    But we have been much too respectful.
    Of the Academics.
    Of the “noisy” victims.
    Of the redemption that the ex-prisoners/terrorists claim.
    These people have had too easy a ride. Time they were confronted.

  • Mr Maskey,
    The “Follow Me Up to Carlow” thing surprised me which is why I didnt include it. I am told it is the “oldest rebel song” and my understanding was/is that the words were written much earlier than the claim made for McCall.

  • otto

    It can be cathartic to see how people we’ve been emotional with view their own actions with a bit of temporal detachment.

    This came out of UCC’s conference on the 1916 anniversary.

    Something similar from all these upcoming anniversaries would be worthwhile.

  • Greenflag


    Here’s a 98 song that is not so well known as other standard Wexford 98 songs -sung by Frank Harte with accompanying lyrics for the historical context .No idea when it was written or by whom .

  • FJH “There is a cosy consensus that these ex-prisoners, noisier victims and the academics who faciliate them have a greater understanding of Truth than the rest of us. I dont doubt the sincerity of many in the “Golden Halo”. …”

    I think you make the error that ‘noisier victims’ or ‘exprisoners’ are faciliated by the academics and thus part of the Golden Halo. The facts contradict that in that exprisoners are generally not very well off and are discriminated against employment wise –well and good the Raymond McCartney or Pat Sheehan have landed on their feet career wise but that is not the norm for example, exprisoners cannot get employment driving taxis or join the PSNI –yet former RUC or UDR thugs have enjoyed a very lucrative retirement –if access to a whole new career was not paved for them.

    As for noisier victims –that is just contemptious.

    The Golden Halo exists for the academics and party favourites but not to cater for the struggling exprisoners or noisier victims –if Quango’s did any good they wouldn’t be quangos –they are merely a spong to obsorb government/EU funds and rewards that each Party can award to a select few –the NIHRC being perfect example of being completely useless and a political carve up for parasites upon the missery of the vulnerable.

  • Ok let me make myself clear….on prisoners, victims an
    I have no time for ex-terrorist prisoners who feel that they have something to tell us and that I should listen. I dont want to know.
    Pat Sheehan and you will know I have described him as back to the future candidate is a co-opted member of the Assembly and unlike the folks who take up spaces at seminars has the courage to take his chances in an election. He might well be joined by Sean Lynch in FST or Seanna Walsh might go or rather not go to Westminster. And the others on the gravy train have at least stood for Elections.
    As to victims. And the remarks you find “contemptous”.
    I have only been a very low profile victim. Had any relative of mine died…I frankly dont know if Id be a dignified victim like Joyce McCartan or Alan McBride. I hope that I would but fear that I might be one of the noisy ones for whom there will never be enough. There are some who will tear the arse out of it ad finitum.
    I owe the ex-prisoners nothing.
    I owe the victims nothing.
    I have nothing to apologise for.
    The Golen Halo in Community Relations and Conflict Resolution pays too much attention to them. They are gullible and exploited. And really should spend some time listening to ordinary people.
    Paying too much attention to these two groups has allowed well meaning people to focus on Truth and Reconciliation (on the terms dictated by these people).
    Ive moved on.
    Most people I know have moved on.
    Long past the time we stopped humouring these groups.

  • FJH “I owe the ex-prisoners nothing.
    I owe the victims nothing.
    I have nothing to apologise for.”

    Beyond your me, me, me rant, I suggest that you understand that they do not need your approval and I do not understand your sense that any of them are seeking an appology from you?? Which makes me wonder about your defensivness or overall sense of bitterness?

    Exprisoners, on both sides, have made very reasonable argument that they should be allowed to drive a taxi to make a living –when for many of them it might be the only job available to them –you have a problem with that? It is ok to become an MLA or MP but not a taxi driver? –which would allow them to move on like Mr Sheehan has. I would never have rated you as the complete unreasonable but your stance on that –lets say is uncharacteristic from what I would expect from you.

    Many victims families have been and continue to be dignified but have never had validation in the way Joyce McCartan or Alan McBride have –so for some I can understand if they get a little tense, stomp their foot a little, or even, god forbid, demand to be noticed. Many of them suffer silently and every now and again they will hear of yet another great financial package being given to RUC personel –who for some where the culprits who gunned down their loved one/s. Or the RUC facilitated others to murder –or they ensured that killers (RE McGurks Bar Bombing) went free of suspicion so that they could plant more bombs.

    We have different understanding of the Golden Halo Club –for me it is academics who can do no wrong and are in very lucrative positions as result of the Conflict/GFA, and feed, like parasites, on the misery of the vulnerable. They also talk over everyones head and tell the suffering what they actually suffered -and how it effects their lives as if those bereaved or suffering cannot articulate or understand their own lives.

  • Oh your stance on the Golden Halo is much the same as mine. Im just a little guarded in my criticism.
    I am surprisingly lacking in bitterness. In fairness Ive had very little to be bitter about as Im relatively …..I repeat “relatively” untouched by the events of the past 40 years. I refuse to wallow in it. And encouraged my children not to so do.

  • Turgon

    Christy Walsh,
    I am not here to defend FJH but I have a very significant degree of sympathy with his comments. The vast majority of people here have nothing to apologise for and owe the terrorists nothing. On the victims I think we owe them some degree of recognition but I do not think that requires us to apologise for anything.

    The issue about jobs is interesting and I intend a blog on this subject soon. However, the reality is that an employer should be allowed to know about the past of a prospective employer. And yes if the applicant were say a loyalist murderer who specialised in killing random Catholics (possibly taxi drivers) then I think it would be completely reasonable to refuse the terrorist a job. After all the terrorist has shown a predilection for violence against random strangers and as such he might decide to have another go some late night taxi run.

    Or maybe take the driver of the McGurk’s bomb: I would much rather he did not have a job as a delivery driver (I accept he is now old and ill but as an example it is not unreasonable).

    The difference with Sheehan is (loathsome as I find him) that he is standing for election. The people of West Belfast, knowing his past, can decide whether or not to employ him. I think employers should have the same right re applicants for jobs.

    More minor criminals may well after a period of time get good jobs: I have no problem with that but they should have to show that they are reformed characters. Furthermore if they were in gaol for a year 20 years ago most employers would not be interested. However, it is only just that the employer knows his or her prospective employees background.

    Personally I do not believe in the death penalty nor that life should mean life. However, dependent on the severity of the crime then the criminal, particularly a murderer, should have his or her life significantly impaired as a result of his or her crime. Murderers are serving life sentences remember. The fact that they neither end their days at the end of a rope nor end them in gaol is actually a concession: one I whole heartedly endorse but that does not mean that they should have a great and ultra successful career following release. They deprived their victim not of a good job but of his or her life.

  • FJH “I am surprisingly lacking in bitterness. In fairness Ive had very little to be bitter about as Im relatively …..I repeat “relatively” untouched by the events of the past 40 years.”

    Then why are you so resentful of those who have been touched by it and have reason to be bitter but are not –yet come across as bitter.

    “I refuse to wallow in it. And encouraged my children not to so do.”

    So what would you be wallowing in? And why would your children wallow with you? Though it is a nice way to describe people who have lost a son, daughter, father,or someone else close. You recognise and give praise to Joyce McCartan and Alan McBride –but have no idea of how many similar McCartan’s and McBride’s there are.

    I also note your avoidance of exprisoners reasonable argument that they should be allowed to drive a taxi or do other work which they are excluded from –how can they move on if they cannot make a life for themselves??

    For someone who has escaped the Conflict realatively unscathed as you say –one would think you would be thankful and a little more compassionate for those who did not escape in one piece!!

    Your only complaint is that you cannot stand the sound of suffering people — the name sociopath is crying out loud about you.

  • FJH Re ” be bitter but are not –yet come across as bitter.”

    Should read “yet you come across as bitter.”

  • Turgon

    Where are exprisoners looking for apologies? Relatives of the dead might be but why do you and FJH take it so personal to think they want you two to apologize? I simply do not follow that? It does not make sense to me.

    Why would an exprisoner taxi driver be more inclined to resort to political violence than an exprisoner MLA would? Again, that argument does not make complete sense.

    I do understand what you say about previous history and why it might be of concern. The vast number of Republican Prisoners did not kill anyone. Nationalists could be concerned about the previous history of many PSNI officers -did they operate informers or agents for example? Many people would prefer that exRUC Officers were not in the PSNI. I have encountered IRA men who would make far better Police Officers than some Police Officers whom I have also encountered. I know one exUVF killer who I would have no problem getting in his car if he were a taxi driver.

    It is tiresome having to repeat the same old story over, and over and over again –I live that life in many ways –it is by no means from wallowing or liking having to do it. I don’t much care about the begrudgers and berators –but for other people I can see how such callous remarks can be soul destroying –especially when the asshole boast of having passed through the conflict unscathed.

    It is no good saying things have changed and being as derogotory as FJH was that people should stop being “noisy victims” (what he called them) while at the same time forcing people to have to live in the past –because they cannot get a job –or worse still –Joyce McCartan and Alan McBride had their say –they did it dignified -now all the rest who have lost loved ones should shut up because we are sick of hearing it –two was enough for FJH.

    Whatever your view of any of the paramilitaries -their handlers, generals, and political mouth pieces are all doing pretty well –Pat Finucane’s wive summed it up well when she said that the actual person who pulled the trigger are two a penny –but they were controlled and guided. Even foot soldiers can suffer injustice.

  • Well I cant really do much about how I “come across”. Clearly Mr Walsh sees me in a certain way. Turon does not see me that way.
    Ive tried to be reasonable and measured. I have no particular take on the notion of “good victims” or “bad victims”. In THAT sense I am prepared to take as I find.

    There are of course many more dignified victims such as Joyce McCartan and Alan McBride. I chose them as examples….one from each community ……as people who had suffered horribly and bore/bear that suffering with enormous dignity. I have candidly said that I am not at all sue if I could emulate their dignity. I hope that I could. I fear that I could not.
    That does not strike me as a rant about victims or a “me me me” selfishness.
    While I am happy enough to accept the crime visited/injustice etc on widows, children as the same, it is evident that the attitude to suffering is different. Offensive as it sounds, there are people who refuse to get over it. In different circumstances I might be like them. But there are people who still think that the Community at large “owes” them. I am part of the Community and I assert that I owe them nothing…..except due respect for the suffering but not a perpetual licence never to seek their own recovery. Frankly on a philosophical aside, I think this damages them even more.
    They are being over-comforted, humoured by folks labelled here as “do gooders”. It is not a term Id use myself but I draw the same conclusion…..that entire careers can be made out of te post-Conflict and the conflict resolutionists NEED the victims.
    And those who cant move on NEED the conflict resolutionists. The broader community does not need the conflict resolutionists. We have tolerated them but my patience..and seemingly others is exhausted.
    As for ex-prisoners. Again the conflict resolutionists need them and the ex-prisoners need the conflict resolutionists. Mutual support. And the ex-prisoners …loyalist and republican…….need each other.
    Many conflict resolutionists…..believe in redemption and forgiveness and all that stuff.
    Possibly I do too.
    But I think a sizeable number of these ex prisoners are using the essential decency of those that comfort them.

    I am not really sure what all this taxi business has to do with anything. As ar as I know theres quite a few taxi drivers who were ex-prisoners. They make no secret of it.
    Is this different for the black hacks and private hire.
    I think its entirely reasonable that people convicted of violent crimes are shielded from the public. As Turgon observes any employer would reasonably expect full disclosure of serious crime.
    And as both Turgon and I have pointed out the case of MLAs is a bogus one. The electorate is the interviewing panel and if say 5,000 people in West Befast ie a quota …..judge Pat Sheehan to have passed his interview, I wont complain.

  • andnowwhat

    I was listening to Radio Ulster on Sunday morning and there was a discussion on this matter. Whilst discussin the peiod leading up to 1916 and then to 1922, Eammon Pheonix told me more in 10 minutes than I have ever heard in my life on the topic.

    I know most of you people would know what he was talking about but the motivations of some movements were very different to my (and I was say the prevailing) perception and understanding of the matter.

  • andnowwhat
  • andnowwhat – that was one of the links at the bottom of the post!!

  • Brian Walker

    Who among the above would refuse to take part in a regular exchange of views and consolidation of infomation? What else is Slugger? OK, there may be worries about a State-sponsored, pasteurised version of ” the truth,.” leading straight to ” reconciliation.” Any attempt to foist that on the public woudn’t last five minutes. All the different versions need exposure and challenge. Outcomes are bound to be uncertain but worth doing for their own sake.

  • FJH Your above posts were very self indulged rants and no reference was made to any community wide burden of responsibility which you now bring up.

    But equally I am also unaware of exprisoners seeking an apology from the community at large any more than seeking one from you. I am not even aware of victims asking specificly for the general ‘community’ to apologize –which is quite different from from nationalists asking unionists to face up to their responsibility and vise versa.

    Perhaps you need re-examine the ‘do gooders’ and who they indulge. There is a vulger representation, mostly populated with academics, of what human rights are about –they cherry pick choice ‘victims’. Given their status they get more media/press/conference access and coverage as do the silent victims. Some of whom have contacted me personally just to ask how to do this or how to go about something else. Apparently the NIHRC have been none too pleased with quite a few abuse victims for fear they might tarnish their Golden Halo –certainly a man who acted as interpreter for many foreign nationals had some very scathing remarks to make about how he and those he represented had been treated by the NIHRC.

    No doubt some people will abuse or take advantage of the Golden Halo club –that is a two way exchange. But that gives you no right to be demeaning toward anyone as being ‘noisy victim’ simply for voicing that they had suffered, been abused, or simply like to put some things straight.

    In terms of the Golden Halo club I find they are more concerned about minutia of a torn finger nail being a human right violation than the fundamental issues –certainly Article 6 is not featured much –and it took years of haggling with the NIHRC to finally give some recognition to Article 2 rights.

    Did you know that the NIHRC legal case budget –for helping people –is a mere 60k [corrected from 30k] –one case in particular in 2008 required 21k to pay lawyers fees –this might account for why some are noisy victims –On my own case –I specifically wrote to the NIHRC in 2005, and repeated periodically, that what I wanted did not require money –All I have ever asked for is that the NIHRC look at the facts of my case and say one way or the other whether or not it thought any aspect of the case raised any concerns.

    There is also a sizeable section of the community which has enjoyed periodic financial packages of substantial sums of money –this section of the community is usually very quiet so I am sure you will like them and to hell with all the rest. –Aparently their human right to be members of the RUC was violated –they need a lot of comforting god love them. Many victims are too quiet is the problem.

  • Slight correction –above should read 60k not 30k

  • Greenflag


    ‘Eamon Phoenix told me more in 10 minutes than I have ever heard in my life on the topic.’

    Probably because you have only heard the conventional black and white sorry red blue or green orange versions of the period . Those who have read widely on the period are aware that ‘complexity’ of motives etc is also very much a part of the history of the time .

    History ‘learning ‘ is for many people even in NI a dry as dust subject made up about people who are long dead who have little or no impact on our daily lives other than at ‘ritual time’ when the totems are dragged out to worship.

    Who bothers or knows that the leader of the Easter Rebellion had an English stone mason for a father or that Erskine Childers executed by the Irish Free State as a Republican served in the RAF or that Joe Devlin was supported by Winston Churchill ?

    Not sure about Phoenix’s point re having ‘compassion ‘ for the people on all sides at that time . This could be said for virtually every point in time in many countries when people have to adjust under pressure -either internal or external to events which they may even have brought upon themselves ?

    Understanding of many of the motives is about as far as I would go at least in the sense of trying to make ‘sense’ of the decisions people made at that time -one way or the other .

    Who now in 2011 would deny that the Unionist’s claim that Home Rule would have meant Rome Rule -in the light of recent revelations in Ireland -had not a great deal of veracity -behind it . Irish Republicans have long stopped laughing at the formerly much derided Unionist claim .

    Who now would deny that the CRA did not have justification for taking to the streets in the late 1960’s in pursuit of civil rights and equality ?

    Who now derides the World War 1 -Irish soldiers who volunteered for Redmond in the hope of winning Irish Home Rule ?

    ‘I know most of you people would know what he was talking about but the motivations of some movements were very different to my (and I was say the prevailing) perception and understanding of the matter.’

    Just like ‘mankind ‘ was never the ultimate point of evolution as earlier generations of anthropologists used to maintain – the outcome of the struggle for Irish ‘independence ‘/ home rule / or the union was never ‘guaranteed ‘. That the Republic and NI have ended up with the present dispensation has been just one of many possible outcomes which could have arisen -yet that’s what we have to work with as best we can until such time as ‘events ‘ push or pull both states in a different direction .

    What direction makes sense in 2011 ? In a globalised world economy where the balance of power is shifting internationally from the west to the east and where within western societies the balance of power is shifting away from the people and more to the corporate and financial oligarchies – where is the ‘democratic ‘ future that the world was ‘promised ‘ when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down ?

    As well as the requisite navel gazing at the myriad complexities of the histories of the 1870 -1970 period – to assuage or placate or reach out to the other side -I would think that more ‘intellectual ‘ effort should be directed at the locus of where present day ‘democracy ‘ is at and whether or not it can or should still be called ‘democracy ‘ ?

  • > Who among the above would refuse to take part in a regular exchange of views and consolidation of infomation? What else is Slugger?

    Brian – so well put. A large percentage of those attending Monday’s half day conference will be regular readers of Slugger … and will no doubt be quite bemused at this thread of comments.

  • Greenflag

    addendum ,

    Sometimes in history the very actions taken to prevent something happening have the unintended consequence of bring such events forward and sometimes in even a more extreme form than was first opposed .

    When the UVF imported German arms to oppose Home Rule ibefore WWI they set in train a sequence of events which led to similar action taken by Irish Volunteers which then gave impetus in the middle of WWI to the Easter Rising . W

    Should Irish Republicans in hindsight thank the UVF arms importers of that period for helping bring about a greater separation from England than a majority of Irish people North and South would have wished for in say 1909 ?

    There are many similar what if scenarios that can be ‘discussed ‘ by those interested in academic or conference like settings -but probably not worth getting into down at your local where ‘minds ‘ may be overly tuned to the safe and conventional interpretations which people embrace mainly because they have to live ‘them’ every day in the here and now .

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Look at the criteria proposed.

    ‘interrogation’,’complexities,’differing perspectives’,’evidence based’

    There’s nothing wrong with that.If properly followed it beats the golden halo of the re-imagined, shared future, pasteurised product into a golden hoop. It will leave room for more partisan views too…they can be represented in their own terms but not on their own terms. So not a problem with the outlook, we’ll just have to judge the follow through.

    people are already remembering the past in their own ways; and choosing to forget some things too. Thats going on without any help from government or usual suspects but allowing different views to clash and circulate, and having some difficult matters spotlighted that are usually pushed to the outer dark might be helpful. And I think people can spot wallowing grief, excessive moralising or hollow martyrology a mile off, just as they can recognise loss, dignity, and courage or commitment. And those judgments will vary. Could be useful and surprising. Depends on who and how its pushed through.

  • PTQ

    I dont understand the hostility to Conflict Resolution. Clearly people have issues.

  • PTQ –I doubt anyone actually is hostile to Conflict Resolution –it is more the current form of academic high fluting sense of talking down to or at a target audience who understand and know the consequnces of conflict –as they have lived it, suffered it and endured it but whose voice, experiences or suggestions rarely get over the parapet.

    On the otherhand FJH just does not like “noisy victims” –apparently he escaped the Conflict unscathed and does not know what all the fuss is about…

  • alaninbelfast

    “Brian – so well put. A large percentage of those attending Monday’s half day conference will be regular readers of Slugger … and will no doubt be quite bemused at this thread of comments”

    and no doubt a large percentage of Slugger readers at the Seminar organised by British-Irish Studies people at Ulster Museum today. I was there. And certainly recognisably others.
    I wont pre-empt the thread which will be posted.
    But the curious thing was that the purpose of the seminar was what can the Arts World here do to help commemorate the upcoming centenaries.
    The resounding answer……from the Arts Community … that they dont see it as their role to do anything at all. Indeed they seemed insulted that their artisrtic independence could be compromised for the sake of a Greater Good. They see life as it is not as it should be. They find it risible that the Arts and Culture are used callously by politicians such as the awarding City of Culture status to a city without a professional theatre.

    Indeed Prof Edna Longley…commenting on the sheer number of these Conferences said that we have conferences to mark centenaries and we will probably end up marking the centenary of these conferences.
    Those genuine people who actually believe in Conflict Resolution will have been disappointed by today.
    A few weeks ago a thread reported a Conference which indicated the Churches are not interested. The arts Community arent interested.
    A look down the 185 names registered to attend showed many from QUB History/Politics Schools. I didnt see any actually attend. They couldnt be bothered walking next door to the Ulster Museum

    So we are left to conclude that the arts Community are not interested.
    The History Community arent interested.
    The Churches arent interested.
    Conflict Resolution is the gift nobody wants.

    Incidently more than one speaker indicated we are already past the point of “Post Conflict”.

  • TwilightoftheProds


    That sadly does not surprise me. One reason why I couldn’t muster enough interest to investigate further. Two points re Art, Museums, and the Troubles here

    1-Biggest collection of Troubles art – Wolverhampton

    2-Largest exhibition of Troubles related art – National Army Museum London.

    Meanwhile the wee Linen Hall Library has to squeeze its collection of Troubles posters (produced by activists,not Arts council fundees) up a bleedin staircase.

    We aren’t well served. but more is achievable.

  • Pigeon Toes

    I’ll just try not to remember the future we thought we were getting, when we stupidly moved back to Northern Ireland in 1998….

    As someone else remarked on another thread today.

    “Plus c’est change, plus c’est la meme chose”.